With new facilities in govt. and private hospitals, pain management in the city has come of age

Pain is no longer a condition you have to bear with a grimace. With a number of exclusive pain management clinics including new facilities at two government hospitals fully functional, awareness levels are rising regarding the need for such treatment.

For details, see infographic at left.

After Government Stanley Medical College Hospital opened an integrated pain clinic in July, it was the turn of Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (GGH) turn to open a chronic pain management centre last week. A few private hospitals have also started such clinics.

Doctors said quite a few persons have been arriving at these clinics.

“At least 80 to 85 per cent of our patients come with complaints of pain. In the general population, 25 per cent suffer from chronic pain — ie. which lasts from 3 weeks to 3 months. This could be head ache, back or neck pain, end stage cancer patients with pain and osteoarthritis pain. Cases of back pain form the major chunk,” said G.K. Kumar, assistant professor, Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine, GGH.

Pain medicine is the 34th specialty of medicine faculty. The centre will function six days a week from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. “Patients with chronic pain need special treatment. If people neglect acute pain, they are likely to suffer for an entire lifetime,” he said. Pain medicine is still at a budding stage in the country, and the centre at GGH hopes to train physicians in pain medicine.

T. Venkatachalam, professor of anaesthesia, GGH said people’s attitude towards pain was changing and that increasing awareness had created a demand for these clinics. “Living without pain is important. Now, we have modalities to control pain,” he added.

At Government Stanley Hospital, the clinic, which functions on Tuesday and Saturday every week, receives at least 25 patients a day.

“The prevalence of pain is much more than diabetes and hypertension. We identify the pain-causing nerve through imaging and block the pathway by way of injections – either steroid, local anaesthesia or radio frequency ablation,” said S.S. Sukumar, assistant professor, Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine, Department of Plastic Surgery.

According to him, treatment could help alleviate 50 to 70 per cent of pain.

R. Madhan Kumar, senior consultant, Interventional Pain Medicine, Global Health City said earlier, people experiencing pain did not seek medical help and took over-the-counter drugs for relief and the cause of pain was left unknown.

The clinic, which was set up in July 2012, gets 5 to 6 patients per day on an average. “The most common complaints include chronic cancer pain and low back pain. We follow a multi-modal approach and get the opinion of doctors in other departments such as neurology and orthopaedics. We have robotic assistance to give injections to patients. We can direct the needle to the precise point on the nerve and it consumes less time,” he said.

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